Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce

Since learning I was pregnant I love to snack on cheese (from what I hear from friends with children this is pretty common). As you know from previous posts meat has not been my friend while I was in the first trimester.  So, I searched for flavorful recipes that were meat free, but filling. I came across this recipe on Pioneer Woman's blog. My mouth watered at the title and I knew I had to make it. This recipe is really simple and only contains a few ingredients, but the flavors are wonderful. I love the addition of fresh spinach for extra nutrients. My husband wished I had included some kind of meat, but I loved the dish without any additions. however, I think it would taste lovely with a grilled chicken breast or grilled chicken sausage. Hope everyone is doing well!


Ingredients
1-1/2 pound Pasta (angel Hair Or Thin Spaghetti)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole 28-ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, Drained
Dash Of Sugar
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, To Taste
3/4 cups Crumbled Blue Cheese
3/4 cups Heavy Cream
4 cups Baby Spinach
Half-and-Half, for thinning (if needed)
Extra Blue Cheese Crumbles, For Garnish

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add minced garlic and cook for a minute. Pour in drained tomatoes. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in crumbled blue cheese. Add cream and stir, then a little splash of half-and-half if sauce is too thick. Cook for a minute or two, tasting and adding more seasonings as needed.
At the last minute, toss in spinach. Immediately toss in the cooked and drained pasta. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan 5/28 - 6/3

Happy Tuesday! We were out of town until yesterday and I did not have a chance to post! This weeks menu includes a few meals and dishes from various blogger challenges. I am still getting my appetite back, but I have been able to eat more and more. I even ordered chicken on Saturday night which was something I haven't done since late March! I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Dinner in Door County
Tuesday: Stuffed Mushroom Pasta (for the Recipe Swap)
Wednesday: Out for Dinner Before Volleyball
Thursday: Breakfast Burger, Cheesy Potatoes, and Salad
Friday: Workin' at the Bar
Saturday: Out for Dinner!
Sunday: Sloppy Joe's, American Fries, and Green Beans

Treats and Bites: Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mexican Spinach Dip

Last week a few friends and I had a little shower for my friend Maggie. Maggie is going to have her 3rd boy in a few short weeks, and we wanted to give her a bit of pampering. I spotted this recipe at Cassie's blog Cassie Craves. It sounded delicious and super easy for a low key get together. I love spinach dip and it was a tasty twist on an old favorite. The only change I made was to add the second cup of cheese to the top of the dip versus stirring both cups into the dip and baking (I like a little extra gooey cheese on top!). My friends loved this dip and we gobbled it up along with guacamole, nachos on the grill, and jello poke cake. Yummy! This weekend is my friend Amanda's wedding day! I have my Maid of Honor Speech down and am so excited to see her walk down the isle! After the wedding we are heading to Door County for the rest of the weekend!


Ingredients

1 16 oz jar salsa, medium or hot
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 8 oz package cream cheese, diced and softened
1 8 oz carton sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and sour cream till smooth. Add spinach, 1 cup cheese, and salsa. Mix well and season to taste.

Spread into a medium baking dish and top with remaning cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly on the sides.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan 5/21- 5/27

Happy Monday! We had a great weekend! It was my friend's bachelorette party on Saturday so we hit the town (I drove). On Sunday it was my sister's birthday and she ran a half marathon. We brought my nephew down and then had dinner at a local supper club. This week is a short week, but a busy week! My friend Amanda's wedding is this weekend, and then we head up to Door County for a long weekend (and my Dad's BBQ ribs!).  Have a great week everyone!

Here is what's on tap:

Monday: Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce and Salad
Tuesday: Grilled Brats, Grilled Potatoes w/ Blue Cheese, and Asparagus
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Chili or Soup from the freezer (we will be gone most of the weekend)
Friday:  Reheral Dinner for my friend Amanda
Saturday: Amanda and David are getting hitched today!
Sunday: We are going to head up to Door County till Monday. I think we will grill out....my Dad's BBQ ribs sound awesome....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Recipe Swap: Caprese Pasta Salad

Time for a new Recipe Swap! The theme for this month is BBQ/warm weather foods. I received Caprese Pasta Salad from Lishie. I was very excited about this salad because of how wonderfully simple it was, and how great that it did not have a mayo base (perfect for an outdoor bbq!) Lishie has great recipes on her blog (if you don't remember I had her blog for a swap before and made the delicious potatoes romanoff...drool). I brought this salad to may parents for Mother's Day to go along side our brats and steaks. It was perfect! The flavors are simple enough that it is a great side for any meal. The other reason I was excited about this recipe was because I had a very similar pasta dish on a very warm afternoon in Rome while vacationing with my family and friend Heather. I don't know why that meal stuck with me, but I remember it fondly, and this pasta brought back those flavor memories. Thank you for a great recipe Lishie!



Ingredients
1 lb shaped pasta of your choice (I used corkscrew), cooked and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces
4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


Instructions
In a large bowl, add pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Gently stir to combine all ingredients. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve and room temperature or chilled.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Improv Cooking Challenge: Strawberries and Cream Muffins

I was so excited about this theme for this month's Improv Challenge: Strawberries and Cream! If you are not familiar with this blogging challenge you can find more information at Kristen's blog Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  Each month there are two assigned ingredients and unlimited choices. You can make anything you want (an original recipe or from another blogger), but it must have the ingredients.  I usually try to be creative with the ingredients, however this month I opted to go with a Strawberries and Cream Muffin I found at Jane's Sweets and Baking Journal.  This muffin recipe may look simple (it is actually very easy), but the flavors are out of this world! The muffin is layered with a vanilla muffin mixture, cream cheese layer, and tons of fresh chopped strawberries (makes a cheesecake like flavor). These muffins are so yummy! I think this would also be excellent with blueberries or raspberries. Thank you Kristen for another great challenge! Don't forget to watch out for next month's theme: cherries and almonds.


Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
2 cups All Purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces (the redder and sweeter, the better!)

4 oz. full-fat cream cheese, very soft
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of liquid from one whole egg that's been beaten lightly
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray liberally.
Cut up your berries and set them aside.

In a small bowl, mix together with a spoon the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside, but don't chill it.

Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the milk into the butter, stirring to combine. Cool until the mixture is just warm, then whisk in the eggs.

Thoroughly combine with a whisk, in a large mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined. Don't overmix. It's okay if a few little flour streaks are still evident.

Using a portion scoop, fill each muffin cup barely half full. Scatter a few pieces of strawberry on top.

Using a small spoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.
On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two so of the muffin batter.
On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry. Push them in just slightly.

Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger. Check on the muffins early, and if they're browning too fast, lightly cover the pan with a sheet of foil.
Let the muffins cool in the pan, on a rack, for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan to cool on the rack.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Ron and I love pesto with pasta, but it is surprisingly something that I don't make often. I am really enjoying pasta right now, and decided that it was the perfect time to whip up a pesto dish for dinner. I looked around on a few different sites before I decided on Pioneer Woman's Pasta with Creamy Pesto Sauce. I kept the recipe pretty much the same, but I omitted the garlic and added a little leftover asparagus from Ron's parents garden (so awesome).  We also grilled a little pesto chicken sausage from Trader Joe's, sliced it and served it on the side (It wasn't sliced when I photographed).  This was a really easy recipe and I loved the smells of the fresh herbs...yummy! If you are without a food processor you can easily make this with store bought pesto.  I tossed in the extra ingredients for a little more body and the sausage for some protein.  I am so excited for tomorrow because we are having a little mini dinner for my friend Maggie. She is having her third baby boy at the end of June and we are having a little Mexican themed party for her.


Ingredients

3/4 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan (additional)
16 ounces, weight Pasta (cavitappi, Fusili, Etc.)
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
Grilled or Saute Asparagus (optional)
Grilled Chicken Sausage (optional)

 
Instructions

Cook pasta until al dente.

Add basil leaves, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Turn machine on, then drizzle in olive oil while it mixes. Continue blending until combined, adding additional olive oil if needed. Set aside.

Heat cream and butter in large pot over medium-low heat. Add pesto and stir.
Drain pasta and pour into pot with pesto sauce. Toss to combine. Add diced tomatoes (and any aditional mix-ins) and toss quickly. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Ruhbarb Crumble Pie

I finally have a recipe to share with you! I made this dessert with the ruhbarb from my garden for my mom on Mother's Day. My mom loves the combo of strawberry and ruhbarb and I knew it would be a perfect end to our meal. The crumble topping is the same topping I use for my grandmother's apple pie and I love it so much I never use a traditional pie crust as a topping. As you can see from the post below my little one can be a bit finicky, but this pie tasted delicious! It was so easy to put together too! I can't wait for more veggies to sprout up in the garden. This is my first year with a garden because we finally have a house, and I am thrilled! Hope everyone is having an amazing week.

Ingredients
1 cup fresh ruhbarb, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup water
3/4 Tbl sugar
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 tsp flour (I use gluten free)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/8 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour (I use gluten freen)
1 8-inch pie crust (I use gluten free)

Instructions
Add water and 3/4 Tbl sugar to a small pot. Bring to a simmer and add ruhbarb. Allow the ruhbarb to soften for 3-5 minutes (depends on how thick your ruhbarb is).  Strain and remove with a slotted spoon into a large bowl. To the bowl with the ruhbarb, add strawberries, flour and sugar. Gently stir till all ingredients are evenly mixed.

Follow any pre-baking instructions for a thawed pie crust (unless frozen).  After crust is finished (if necessary), pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. With a wooden spoon slowly stir in the flour. The mixture will start to break up and form a crumble. 

Add ruhbarb/ strawberry filling to pie crust and top with the crumble. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thanksgiving......

Some of you may be wondering where I have been the past few weeks.... where are all the recipe? All the activity? All the food?!?

This Thanksgiving we will be giving thanks for more than turkey because a new addition to the family is waiting in the wing to make his/her appearance!

Introducing.......

Baby Lecker
(or Poulet - baby turkey as Ron calls it...poor thing)


We are so excited and thrilled about the new addition to our family! However, Baby Lecker has a few things it does not care for... Thankfully, I have not been sick but have had terrible food aversions!  I can feel myself slowly coming back to somethings and hopefully I will be a bit more normal with my eating habits as time goes on.  However, I think chicken and Chinese food might have to stay away for a few more months. I am always curious about other Moms- what were your food aversions or loves?  For future reference, do not be alarmed if you see more baked good with frosting coming across the blog... Thank you for all your support! We could not be more excited!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Time for another Crazy Cooking Challenge! The theme for May is the Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Photobucket 

I was really excited about the theme because the possibilities are endless. Like anyone else I love a classic grilled cheese with sharp Wisconsin cheddar...yummy!  However, I wanted to find something  little different for this challenge. I spotted a Hawaiian pizza inspired grilled cheese at Healthy Food For Living. I loved Hawaiian pizza and thought this would be soooooo delicious! I was not wrong this sandwich is awesome. It has the perfect flavors to replicate a Hawaiian pizza.  My husband thought this was a little odd, but trust me, if you are a Hawaiian pizza fan you will flip for this! A big thank you to Tina for putting together the challenge and stop by her blog if you want to join the fun!  Don't forget to click on my photo below to vote my sandwich as the Ultimate Grilled Cheese!


Ingredients
(makes 2 sandwiches)

4 slices bread (I use whole wheat)
¼ cup pizza sauce
4 slices of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
4-6 slices of deli ham (2-3 per sandwich)
2 pineapple rings
Butter
Olive Oil


Instructions

In a skillet heat about 2 1/2 Tablespoons over medium heat. On 4 slices of bread a small amount of butter on each side. Place 2 slices butter side down in skillet. Spread 1 Tbsp of pizza sauce onto each slice of bread in the skillet. Next, layer 2 slices of mozzarella, ham, pineapple, and remaining 2 slices of mozzarella. Top with remaining 2 slices of bread.
Cook sandwiches until golden brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook until golden brown on the other side and the cheese has fully melted, about 3-4 remaining minutes. If the bread turns golden brown before the cheese has fully melted, reduced stove heat to low. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Weekly Meal Plan 5/7 - 5/13

Happy Monday Everyone! We had a busy weekend full of visiting friends, wedding showers, and family! So very fun, but I need a weekend from my weekend! This week we are doing our Lecker Spring birthday celebration at a great restaurant called Mark's East Side in  Appleton, WI. This weekend is full of more wedding fun, and celebrating Mother's Day with our families. Have a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Out to Dinner with my In-Laws
Tuesday:  Darn Good Roast, Twice Baked Chive and Sour Cream Baked Potato, and Asparagus
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday:  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Crockpot Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup
Friday: Working at the Bar
Saturday: In Door County for Courtney's Bachelorette Party!
Sunday: Happy Mother's Day! Menu TBA.....

Friday, May 4, 2012

Recipe Swap: Tres Leches Cake

Happy Friday! Another Recipe Swap is upon us, and the theme for this swap is Secret Recipe Club Style. The idea is that you receive a blog and choose any recipe you wish and all is revealed on the posting day. This is by far my favorite theme for the recipe swaps. I received the blog Eva Bakes and was super excited to look at all of her yummy goodies. Eva has some delicious looking baked treats and I had a hard time deciding what to pick! I almost picked two...but they I came across Tres Leches Cake (originally from Alton Brown). I thought this was perfect considering it is Cinco De Mayo tomorrow!  This cake is a favorite of mine and a favorite of my sister as well. I love the texture and the flavor of this cake. For me, the topping was a little too sweet and I would cut back on the sugar next time. Other than that this was so yummy and soooo easy.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Enjoy a margarita tomorrow or whatever tickles you fancy! Thank you to Sarah for putting together this awesome swap!


Ingredients

Cake: Cooking spray to grease cake pans
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

Topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a13x9 inch baking pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also do this with a hand mixer). Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Do not remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

For the topping:
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Slice into pieces, plate, and top with strawberries or other desired fruit.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mom's Quick Picnic Pasta Salad

Do you ever have a dish that brings back childhood memories? This pasta salad does that for me every time. This was something my Mom always made for family gatherings, and it was my favorite. The original recipe calls for mushrooms, but I forgot to grab them at the store so they are missing from the bowl. Ron and I had this salad with our BLT sandwiches on Tuesday. Yum! Can you believe that Ron never had a true BLT before? I am convinced he was dropped off from another planet! I guess he always had BL sandwiches because he didn't like tomatoes. Now that he is older and wiser tomatoes are now long the enemy. Hope everyone is having an awesome week! Keep you eyes peeled for the Recipe Swap tomorrow and the Crazy Cooking Challenge on Monday!


Ingredients

8oz corkscrew pasta (I used a gluten free veggie pasta)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and halved
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 cup shredded light mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian salad dressing (I use Kraft Light Zesty Italian)
3 Tbl sliced green onions


Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, chop peppers and slice tomatoes.  When pasta is tender remove from heat and drain. Rinse pasta with cold water. Toss noodles with peppers, tomatoes, olives, and onions. Stir in dressing, and mix in the cheese. Cover and allow the salad to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Stir and serve.